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Before his twentieth birthday, Will Bagley took a raft fourteen hundred miles down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. After graduating in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1971, he farmed in North Carolina, played country music throughout the Rocky Mountain West, and joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. He managed publications for Evans & Sutherland, a computer-graphics firm until 1995.
An independent historian, Bagley has written about overland emigration, railroads, mining, the invention of LexisNexis (the world’s first dynamic search engine), and violence. He began writing River Fever: Adventures on the Mississippi, 1969–1972 as it happened; Signature Books published it in May 2019. In 1997, the Arthur H. Clark Company launched a documentary history, Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier, with Mr. Bagley as series editor. The last of its sixteen volumes, The Whites Want Every Thing: Indian-Mormon Relations, 1847 to 1877 appeared in October 2019. He has completed two of the four volumes of “Overland West.” The first, So Rugged and Mountainous, was Editor’s Choice in the September 2011 Atlantic.
Every Sunday between July 2000 and July 2004 the Salt Lake Tribune published Bagley’s column, “History Matters.” He has made hundreds of presentations across Utah and the West He appeared in documentaries the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and PBS, notably “The Mormons” on “The American